Smooshers Featured Artist: Vixen Jewels

One of our newer Artfire Smooshers members is Polly Dobbs of Vixen Jewels. She has a whole lot of beautiful polymer clay jewelry in her shop but these 2 are my favorites.

Hmmm, or maybe it’s these 2 πŸ™‚

Be sure to drop by Polly’s Artfire shop and take a look around.
You can see more examples of her work in her Flickr gallery and follow her blog

People using my stamps in their art :)

I just wanted to share a few pictures of some beautiful pieces of jewelry where the artist has used one of my clear stamps as texture. I feel like a proud parent LOL

First is my pal Janie in Alabama. She runs a shop called Life Art Designs over at Etsy. She says is getting ready for an arts and crafts show on Dauphin island on April 16th. If you are in the area you should drop by and take a look at her fabulous work. Janie has combines polymer clay with fine silver clay (.999% silver) to make this gorgeous piece using my Asian Script clear stamp.

The next person is one of my faithful Etsy shoppers πŸ™‚ Her shop is call Mindfulmatters. She used my ever popular Vintage Circuit Board clear stamp to create this wonderful pendant.

She also made this intricate barrette using my Runes clear stamp.

Wandie Ortiz has a shop called Bijoux Hibou at Etsy and she used my Branches clear stamp to make this very colorful pendant, which I just love, that has a glazed ceramic look.

Here we have Kristen from Canada. Another of my Etsy buyers. (Thanks you Etsy) Her Etsy shop is called Wasabeads. Kristen used my Vintage Circuit Board clear stamp to make this great pendant and earring set.

You can find over 70 clear stamps currently listed in my Artfire and Etsy shops. Please drop by and take a look. πŸ™‚ I am positive you will find them interesting and unique. I design my stamps with polymer clay in mind, but they can be used on a multitude of surfaces. If you can stamp on it, they will work πŸ™‚

Sanding and Buffing Polymer Clay

I will be the first to tell you I honestly hate sanding my clay projects LOL Buffing I actually find a little relaxing. Which I guess is a good thing, since the sanding part is so tough to get through. πŸ™‚

Hand Sanding (sort of)

My favorite tool for sanding is a Black & Decker Scumbuster. I have the old style version with the removable, rechargeable batteries. I upgraded the batteries to Versapak Golds and they last twice as long.

To prepare the sandpaper, I tear the large sheets into 1/4’s and soak the paper in hot, soapy water for 5 minutes to make it pliable. Then I center the sandpaper over the largest scrubby pad that I have already attached to the Scumbuster. I pin (using floral T pins) the 4 corners of the sandpaper into the side of scrubby pad. It sands like a dream ! I started sanding this way years ago when the idea was published at PC Polyzine. The writer opted to cut sandpaper circles and use sticky velcro to hold her sandpaper on, but that was to much work and cost for me. LOL

There are other versions of sanders people have set up using rechargeable toothbrushes, Tide stain brushes and similar inexpensive devices. I believe they hot glue little circles of sandpaper to the bristles. If you use the toothbrush method and it has interchangeable brushes, you can put a different grit of sandpaper on each brush.

Here is the one my pal Eva in Denmark made for herself
Eva’s comments:
“Ever since I saw the Scumbuster mentioned as a great sanding tool, I’ve had this idea on how to use an electric toothbrush instead, since Scumbusters isn’t an item sold in Denmark (as far as I know). I recently came across a battery powered toothbrush that might do the trick (and was cheap, too), bought that and two 2-packs extra brushes.

I wrote a grit number on each of the five brushes with a permanent marker and with a 1/2″ circle leather punch I punched out little dots of the sandpaper in five different grits and glued them on the bristles of the five brushes using a hot glue gun.
Note: Put glue on the bristles and then the dot of sandpaper on top to make sure it gets a good grip – the little glue you can put on the dot of sandpaper will not be enough to keep it adhered when you start sanding.

….and it works like a charm – wet or dry! It’s great for small items like beads/jewelry and I think also for hard to get to places on sculpts, but might be a little tedious for larger things, but then again it might not. At least it saves your shoulder and wrist a lot of work. (not to mention your fingertips and nails)
When the sandpaper is worn down just rip it off and replace it. I keep my lil’ dots in zip lock baggies, as you can see.”

Here is a short tutorial where the author opted to remove the bristles from the brush head and use velcro to attach sandpaper.

And yet another take on the toothbrush sander πŸ™‚

Tumble Sanding

If you make a lot of small beads there is no way you will ever have time to sand them all by hand. Invest in a rock tumbler. I purchased an inexpensive child’s model at Michael’s with a 50% off coupon, making it about $15. You can shell out more money for the top quality Lortone tumbler. They are quieter and come with 1, 2 or 3 vessels to tumble your beads in. Which means you can be sanding up to 3 different grits at once. If you make beads for a living it would be a great investment and time saver.

Some people say to line the inside of the tumbler’s chamber with sandpaper. I never have. All I do is cut my sandpaper into very random shapes approximately 1/2″ across. I put the sandpaper chips into the chamber and fill it up 1/2 way with very warm water to soften the paper. In my opinion, if it’s pliable it works better. Add 2 or 3 drops of liquid soap, which will act as a lubricant. I start with 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper and work up through all consecutive grits – 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200. You can go up as high as 1500 and 2000 grit if you really want to, but I haven’t found it necessary. ** It must be wet/dry sandpaper. The kind meant for woodworking will not work. You can find wet/dry at automotive stores or the auto dept at WalMart.

The first tumble with 320 grit is the most important and will take the longest. Maybe 12- 24 hours. Check occasionally to see if the beads are uniformly sanded. When the first tumble is done, it may only take 10 – 15 hours for the second tumble at 400 grit. As before, check occasionally to see if they all feel sanded evenly. I found that as I used each grit it took a little less time to sand the beads. By the time you reach 1000 grit it may only take 8 hours. 1000 grit is really just polishing anyway. It hardly feel like sandpaper at all, it’s so smooth.

I opted to get a less expensive bench grinder and buy muslin cloth buffing wheels for it. The whole setup only cost me about $50 and I purchased it all at Harbor Freight. I know a lot of artists who swear by their Foredom buffers. They aren’t cheap, but worth the investment if you are making a living selling your clay goodies. I’m just a part time artist, so cheap works for me. πŸ™‚

A little education on using a buffer. First and foremost – READ THE OWNERS MANUAL ! πŸ™‚ Seriously folks. It can save you an injury. That wheel spins very fast. Need I say more. My bench grinder spins away from me, but I think some buffers may spin towards you. Be sure to get familiar with your machine. Always use the lower section of the buffing wheel and have a firm hold on your piece. If you lose grip of it, you will have a small plastic projectile flying across the room. Make sure there is nothing expensive and breakable in the path it will fly. I put an empty cardboard box behind my buffer. That works for me, because my wheel turns away from me. If your wheel turns towards you be sure nothing behind you can damaged. And wear safety goggles for goodness sake !

With that firm grip on your piece, hold the clay up to the wheel, just touching it. You don’t need to cram the piece into the wheel. A light touch works very well. You will get the feel for it in no time. Practice makes perfect.

If you need to buff beads, I find it easiest to slip them onto a steel rod and buff several at a time. Assuming you already have holes in your beads. If not, get drilling. πŸ™‚ The beads will want to spin on the rod, so I tend to rest my finger on the rod and snug it up next to the bead to slow the spin. Don’t run your finger on the area of the bead you are buffing. Friction from the wheel heats up the surface, softening the clay, and you can transfer you fingerprints to the bead. There goes all the sanding you did and now you will have to repeat the process. Not fun.

Well, that’s all folks πŸ™‚ Happy creating.

Vacations and Me Time

I have decided to close my Etsy & Artfire shops for a couple weeks (Jan 9th – 24th) so I can have a much needed vacation from anything that resembles work πŸ™‚ You can still place orders in the Etsy shop, but it won’t be processed until I reopen.

I am designing a bunch of new clear stamps for 2011. That might sound like work to the normal person LOL but it’s something I love to do. Here is a preview of some I’ve already done.

I will also be making some jewelry and spending some time at my mom’s while her hubby is out of town. Having a girls week. Taking all my clay stuff and my XBox 360. Bought a new game called Fable III several weeks ago and haven’t even opened it yet. Yep, I’m a closet RPG player πŸ™‚

Fabulous Flickr Finds

I am writing my first post from my new iPad πŸ™‚ Was a chore figuring out how to migrate photo links, but I eventually figure it out.

Just wanted to share some of the newer Flickr photos from my contacts there.

Wettbewerbsthema Schnitzen!
Brooch 655
steampunk hummingbird pendant

Enjoy Life
Anasazi cuff - polymer clay

Incredible Canes !!!!

Wandering around Facebook I noticed one of my Friends had shared a link to one of their Friends. The link took me to a blog called Polymer Clay Shed. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this blog yet, because I was definitely missing out.

The artists name is Carola Greiser and she goes by CraftsByCag. She’s a member of PCAGOE (Polymer Clay Artist Guild of Etsy). Carola has one Etsy shop for her jewelry , which has some amazing bead for sale and a second shop for her other items, like crochet hooks and pens. But what I really want to share with you all is Carola’s cane work. It is nothing short of stunning !!!! I sooooooo want the 2 purple background one in the first picture πŸ™‚

That is just a tiny fraction of the cane work you can see in Carola’s Flickr Photo Gallery. Enjoy and try not to drool πŸ˜‰

Cold Connections In Jewelry Making

I’ve always been fascinated by Cold Connections. Using things like rivets, snaps, eyelets, grommets, brads, screws or just a piece of wire can be a creative way to connect two pieces together to make an interestingΒ  jewelry statement. Wire wrapping is also considered a cold connection. A simple jump ring or a head pin with a loop on the end – Yes – they are a cold connections, too.

I consider Connie Fox an expert on cold connections. Her work is innovative and creative.Β  And she has a wonderful web store full of tools and supplies that are irresistible .

Another authority on cold connections is Susan Lenart Kazmer.Β  She has a fabulous book you might want to check out called “Making Connections” . (Note* – I think the publisher is going out of print on this book) There is a lot of info at your fingertips and a must have for your jewelry making library.Β  It retails for $48, but follow this link to Fire Mountain Gems and get it for only $25.70, plus $5 flat rate shipping with FedEx. Susan also has a DVD named Metalwork: Making Cold Connections with Rivets available from Interweave for $24.99

Susan’s Blog for those of you who would like to follow her work.

Tim McCreight, the overall master of metalsmithing, also has a DVD that should be very helpfull. I haven’t seen it, but come on ! It’s Tim McCreight πŸ™‚ It’s called Cold Connections and the Power of Found Objects

Goodness, I nearly forgot about Mary Hettmansperger !!! How I don’t know when I own 3 of her books.Β  πŸ™‚

Cold connections is one of her specialties and how I initially got interested in the subject.Β  I saw Mary on several episodes of Bead, Baubles & Jewels and her work intrigued me. My favorite book is called Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet: Making designer Metal Jewelry. It’s full of interesting projects and fun ways to connect pieces together. I also love Fabulous Woven Jewelry: Plaiting, Coiling, Knotting, Looping & Twining with Fiber & Metal.

I rounded up a list of links to give you some ideas and inspiration. πŸ™‚

Techniques for Riveting
Setting a stone with no soldering
YouTube video
another YouTube video
Riveting video
Setting Wire Rivets

The Cold Connections - Metal Jewelry Sans Flame
Art Jewelry Magazine forum

New Artist Discovery :) Lynn Reno of Desert Rubble

I stumbled upon this wonderful blog called Desert Rubble and it took my breath away.Β  Lynn Reno has a rustic, earthy approach to her art with a touch of Steampunk thrown in for good measure.Β  The piece in particular that caught my eye is this twisted, studded heart.

And I adore dragonflies, so these Steampunk beauties are really up my alley πŸ™‚

And I wish I could make things that guys would wear like Lynn can. This shield pendant is fabulous!

You can see more of Lynn’s work in her Etsy shop or her Facebook page

She also has a Flickr gallery

2 New DVDs by Ronna Sarvas Weltman

Beading Daily: How to Shape, Texture, and Antique Wireworked Jewelry
Join artist and best-selling author Ronna Sarvas Weltman in 5 watch-and-learn lessons as she shows you step by step how to add depth and sophistication to simple wire jewelry.

Master texturing and antiquing basics as you boost your jewelry-making skills with a variety of fun techniques! Enhance your designs as you learn how to:

* Perfect your technique with tool and material tips.
* Add a personal touch to jewelry with your own clasps.
* Make a fabulous ring in only 5 minutes!
* And more!

Take your wire jewelry from simple to stunningβ€”get started with these fun techniques today!

Beading Daily: How to Make Polymer Clay Beads
Join artist and best-selling author Ronna Sarvas Weltman inexciting watch-and-learn lessons as she shows you step by step how to create fun and fabulous polymer clay beads.

Master polymer basics, such as proper conditioning, shaping, curing, and texturing. Boost your jewelry-making skills with a variety of fun techniques to make your own round beads, discs, and more!

Enhance your designs as you learn how to:

* Find perfect harmony between color and form.
* Shape easier with tips to keep clay from cracking.
* Create one-of-a-kind beads from fat and funky to thin and delicate.
* And more!

Shape your jewelry to fit your styleβ€”get started with these fun techniques today!

Both are available now at PolkaDot Creations for the low price of $24 each (MSRP is $29.99)

Helpful Ideas For Making Jewelry Displays

Doing jewelry shows and need some eye catching displays? I found a link posted at my favorite forum that you may just want to take a look at. The web site is called Jewelry Display Ideas and it’s full of fabulous ways to show off your jewelry to get maximum exposure in your booth.

My favorite ideas are the ones using objects to up-cycle like this box turned earring display.

Or these bottles combined with a little wire and glass marbles to make interesting necklace holders.

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